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Portrait of Jacques-François Desmaisons

Public Domain

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Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Jacques-Louis David

French, 1748-1825

Portrait of Jacques-François Desmaisons, 1782

oil on canvas

support: 36 x 28 1/2 inches (91.44 x 72.39 cm); framed: 45 1/2 x 37 7/8 x 3 inches (115.57 x 96.2 x 7.62 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

General Purchase Funds, 1944

1944:1

More Details

Inscriptions

signature, dated / lower left center / J.L.David f/1782

Provenance

remained for many years in possession of the artist's family;
M. Baudry, by 1880;
M. R...., sold at auction, no. 1, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, June 22, 1905;
to M. David-Weill, Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris;
to Wildenstein & Co., New York;
sold to the Albright Art Gallery, March 6, 1944

Class

Paintings (visual works)

Work Type

Oil painting (visual work)

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

When he was only nine years old, Jacques-Louis David’s father was killed in a pistol duel, and his uncles, architects François Buron (French, 1731–1818) and Jacques-François Desmaisons (French, ca. 1720–1789), helped raise him. Buron and Desmaisons encouraged David to follow them in the profession, but David found himself preoccupied with drawing and went on to study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. In this painting, David portrays Desmaisons seated at a table with the tools of his trade: architectural drawings, a ruler, a compass, and books about architecture. The spine of one of the books is imprinted with the name of Andrea Palladio (1508–1580), a sixteenth-century Italian architect and author whose work inspired Desmaisons. While David’s portrait of his uncle is fairly typical of the period in its overall composition, it is also a warm and intimate representation of a man who was very important to the artist. Desmaisons’s pose and attitude seem to imply that we have just interrupted his work. He lowers his pen, glances up, and raises his eyebrows to glance at the viewer.
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